Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the eve of the New Year

A message for you, dear readers and fellow bloggers:

"For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning."
—T.S. Eliot

Tonight, with Bing playing in the background and champagne chilling in the foreground, DH and I will gratefully "watch the old year die with a fond good-bye" and step into our future.

How will you celebrate? Whatever your plans, I wish you all the best for a safe, warm, and smooth transition into 2009.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A circuitous tale of waking up thinner, the scourge called IF, and feeling ticked about all of it

As 2009 approaches, I am thinner than when 2008 came knocking. Not by much, but I notice it and so does my scale.

Quick tip for the wise:
Scroll down to the large bold phrase near the end to get to the point sooooo much faster. You're welcome!

I've been fine with Not Being Thinner ever since early 2007 when I gained 25–30 pounds in 2 staggeringly fast month-long periods: March, I think, and then again in July. At the time we were between REs (thinking we were done with REs, mind you) and I was effectively grieving the loss of my fertility, such that it never was. In March of that year I contracted a strange, made-up-sounding viral infection whose treatment was to fast for a few days and then slowly reintroduce food from the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) before gradually returning to regular food. It took about 10 days for me to tolerate anything but BRAT food and at least another week after that to eat normally.

I consumed very little food, FAR less than my typical diet provided, yet I managed to gain 7 pounds during the BRAT-only phase. I thought it odd but assumed my system would normalize on its own now that I felt healthy again. A few weeks later—after setting aside yet another pair of shrunk-in-the-wash underwear—I caught a clue and gingerly stepped on the scale. Another 8 pounds up for a total of 15 (or, as I said, "fiffffteeeeeeeen?"). JUST LIKE THAT!

Now this did catch my attention. But I still believed it was a temporary thing and that my awareness alone would be enough to reverse the gain. I'd simply move more and eat less, and soon all would be fine. Thing is, I made good on my plan but nothing changed. This failure threw me for a loop because several years earlier I'd gained and lost what I can now grudgingly call my "first" package of stress weight—I had no trouble losing it once I cared enough to try, and for 4 years I'd kept it off with what I perceived as no effort. I'd actually come to the smug belief that I was in control of something.

This is just a chemical glitch,
I thought. I'll bet the Clomid from the RE Who Shall Not Be Mentioned triggered something. Maybe that screwy infection screwed me up. Or was it the Fertility Bl.end? Whatever the reason, I can make it go away anytime I want to.

In the face of concluding we weren't done seeking help on our quest to conceive, the weight quickly became a nonissue to me. My concentration shifted to finding a new RE. I interviewed prospects during June and July (can you say "Discouraging"?) and—BAM!—next time I looked up 10 or 15 additional pounds had debuted in time for bathing-suit season. That gain happened, too, with such dizzying speed that I almost couldn't process it. But damn, there I was needing new pants again.

DH and I planned an IVF for October 2007. In September the RE did a pre-cycle hysteroscopy. She literally gasped upon seeing a large fibroid onscreen, brand-spanking new since the fairly recent ultrasound we had *just* reviewed. The tumor had originated outside my uterus and poked right on through the uterine wall into the cavity. That sucker had to come out.

Both my RE and OB say there is no way to prove my theory, but nobody will EVER persuade me away from the firm belief that the rapid-fire weight gains and fibroid growth went hand-in-hand and were directly tied to the stress of trying to "get over" my desire to conceive and move on before I was ready. No way could I ignore that an immediate need for a myomectomy had cropped up, with extra poundage, during all 3 of the hands-down worst times of my life. (Not that I don't understand that I must also have been eating and moving differently. Chronic stress changes the way you function, inside and out.) But my experience with all of it doesn't inform anyone but me.

No matter, though. As DH and I pursued the end of our ttc story, I put weight out of my mind. I couldn't spare the effort to care about it while dealing with the rigors of ARTfulness and consistently tenuous pregnancies. Although 7–10 pharmaceutically-induced pounds came and went with each IVF, my weight held steady overall. No true gains in 2008. A plus that, thankfully, was not. (Assuming you ignore the given that I would give anything to be waddling around with a weight gain of a different stripe.)

I didn't mention this before because I still plan to do a separate post about my recent D&C, but . . . the day after the procedure I felt lighter. I looked it, too. That day my scale said that all the extra IVF #3 weight had disappeared in a surreal sort of POOF.

Well today I woke up looking slightly thinner yet again—3 more pounds gone.

Honestly, I don't know how that could even be possible. I mean, 'tis still the holiday season at my house, and a less-than-jolly one at that. I'm regularly comforting myself with toffee and tea, egg nog and cookies, wine and something cheesy, and so on. Even as I work today, DH is out hunting and gathering a long list of ingredients for the New Year–appropriate appetizers, goodies, and cocktails we'll make and I'll help consume. Not really a weight-shedding setup.

I know. Those 3 pounds probably found their way back to me while I wrote this post. But whether they or their 10+ IVF siblings have left me for good is not the point today.

The point is what ticked me off:

Here's a case where I have not been trying to do something I'd very much like to do. Namely, to start losing my "no baby" weight that so callously attached itself to me 2 years ago. I've done nothing whatsoever to advance the cause and practically everything one might think of to achieve the opposite effect. Yet quite a few pounds have gone missing anyway. I was "relaxing" about the whole deal, if you will, and suddenly I ended up with a desirable outcome. Thinking about it that way really burned me up for a minute.

You see, it's just one more item on life's infinite list that, ultimately, I will never control, even when I think I know for sure that I can and will.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A favorite Christmas song

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been a favorite of mine since I was but a girl. I loved it even before seeing Meet Me in St. Louis for the first time at age 12 or so. But once I saw the film, the beautiful melancholy theme of the song came into focus for me and I loved it even more. Purposely making my heart hurt a little was something I couldn't get enough of at that age. My mom noticed same and surprised me with the sheet music so I could play the song and think about the heart-rending situation till I could play and think no more.

For anyone feeling like you're "muddling through" right now, you are not alone. Happens to the best of us. Just keep on muddling, and I promise I will too. Better days are coming. That's how it works.

Happy holidays to one and all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Behold the negative HPT!

The poor little "Not Pregnant" ones never seem to get photographed, so I thought I'd make mine feel loved.

(To digress: Does anyone else chuckle a little at photos of "Pregnant" digitals? Am I the only one who doesn't see the point of that particular pic?!)

As I think I mentioned, I opted out of officially following my HCG levels down. I decided I didn't need the hassles related to continued fertility-clinic visits, such as . . .
  • Taking time out of every few workday mornings to crawl along ice-covered roads, to and from the clinic.
  • Feeling compelled to tell the (truly) sweet, sunny, young receptionist who is young enough to be my daughter that I'm "great" while checking in to track my failed-pregnancy hormones back down to zero.
  • Wincing at the harried phlebotomist's tale of how unbelievably hard it is to hide gifts and create a faux Santa sighting for the toddlers at home. Heard it already. I am genuinely happy to hear such accounts from friends and family and even total strangers in the insanely long holiday lines at Tarjay. It's normal chatter about real events in people's lives, and I like it. But in the clinic setting, this very particular type of small talk is sometimes hard to take.
  • Deciding to let the afternoon bloodwork-report call go to voicemail so I don't have to reply to another pitying "How are you doing?" or strangely chipper "Have a WONDERFUL holiday!"
Last week was a veritable bust for me. After my ER visit, I experienced some heavy clean-out bleeding, and I stayed on meds for a few days to deal with a crushing hormonal headache and its accompanying nausea. Somehow I powered through one of my year-end projects and finished that on Thursday. (Did I do a good job? Well, I couldn't judge it AT ALL, but nobody has said anything!)

Friday was my first day totally drug, headache, and blood free. A relief that then opened the door to my starting to "feel." Oh boy. I spent that day doing nothing but feeling everything to the core, barely able to move. DH and I had dinner reservations and tickets to the Nutcracker that night, and I managed to pull myself together to go. While dressing, I really worried I might lose it at any number of points in the evening. But it was good to get out and I did well. The swarms of adorable costumed children (both in the audience and onstage) made me smile, as did the requistite dozens of glowing, belly-rubbing preggos who'd bought tickets for the same damn night. It helped that attendance was greatly reduced due to the weather and DH and I had several rows of a nosebleed-box-seat section to ourselves. The lovely wine we had with dinner helped too.

I spent Saturday alone with thousands of other sardines buying groceries, hitting the discount stores, mailing packages, and returning library books (okay, nobody else was at the library). And since Sunday, I've been doing my best to catch up on my other year-end work project. It's moving along. Not as quickly as is typical. But I am doing the best I can with it.

Sunday night brought another spate of cramping and bleeding. Monday morning, I felt like the HCG was gone. Not sure a person can tell, so I used the digital test pictured up top — along with a pink-lined one that was taking up too much space in the cabinet — to see what I'd see. I learned in words and a stark-white testing area that I'm in the clear. The hormones left my system about 2 weeks faster than with the June miscarriage, and that makes sense since I was about 2 weeks farther along with that pregnancy.

So, here I sit. Ready to move on. Or, to be precise, ready to figure out how to.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I don't have the energy for a full-on post right now, but I wanted to check in. I'm around. Alive, as noted. Not really kicking yet, but looking forward to being okay.

I've been wanting to write about the D&C experience, but surprisingly (to me, anyway) that experience hasn't yet run its course. Odd after-effects are still showing up even 5 days later. I've had a rough hormonal transition, which basically wiped out Sunday, Monday, and today. I went to the ER last night (so glad I finally did), and I'm hoping that the drugs I'm on now will allow me to be productive the rest of the week and then find a little time to blog it out.

Write at you soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Peace, baby

I wore a peace-sign pendant to my ultrasound today. The RE lit up when she noticed it — she's not much older than I am, 5–6 years if the graduation dates on her CV correlate to age in a typical way. That would make her my brother's age. So my guess is that in the 70s perhaps she, too, drew peace symbols all over her school notebooks, notes she passed in class, and maybe even her faded denim bell-bottoms. If she didn't, then she surely knew the girls who did — they were the groovy chicks my brother liked and that I wanted to be.

Dr. K said, "I love your necklace. It's the peace sign!"

I smiled, clutched it, and flashed on all thoughts above in the split second before saying, "I wanted a little peace on Earth today."

Next up, the assistant dimmed the lights. DH took my hand, and 5 seconds later the 4 of us silently viewed the baby's image. It was fuzzy . . . not sharp and distinct like before . . . yet clearly — and entirely — still.

The measurements indicated that the baby had grown by exactly a week since the scan 8 days ago. Of course there's no way to know, but the guess is that our bean's heart had just recently stopped.

Amazingly, my heart is still beating. Even broken it finds a way to keep me going. You wouldn't believe all that I've done since leaving the clinic: I've picked up groceries; sat with no thoughts at Starbucks; checked to see that DH made it back to work; called the family; ordered straggler holiday gifts; discussed in detail a current project with a client; unsubscribed from two pregnancy newsletters; thrown out the half-read issue of Fit Pregnancy I bought last weekend; stroked the sweet dog that kissed me when I got home and sits by my side as I write; taken both Tylenol and Advil for the painful cramps that have shown up; and set up a D&C for tomorrow. I've dropped a few hot tears, sure, but the floodgates haven't opened. Plenty of time for that later.

I'll allow that shock may be at play. It does have a way at times of helping you function. But I have to say, for whatever it's worth, that I don't feel shock-y. Instead I feel surrounded by a very strong sense of peace. On Earth.

I like to think that the baby gifted me with peace as it left this world behind. And that there was plenty left over to accompany the baby wherever it needed to go.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh, the conversations we weave

When first we think we might conceive.

Early days
DH: Should we take a break until after the holidays?
Me: Why?
DH: Seems like we have a lot going on right now.
Me: I don't think we can bank on something happening right away. There will always be something going on. And at 38, I am not getting any younger.
DH: Right. No break, then.
Me: Right.

Six months in
Me: Great news! The OB says our chemical pregnancy confirms that everything's working properly. Said it was probably just some fluke-y "bad sperm" or something. Ha! She says to use a fertility monitor and call her with a positive HPT in the next couple of months.
DH: How much does the fertility monitor cost?
Me: It's kind of expensive, but I think it's worth it.

One year in
Me: I'll be traveling during my fertile window this cycle.
DH: We can try before you leave town.
Me: Might as well. Sperm can potentially live up to 5 days.

Two years in
Me: The RE said your sperm is 100% misshapen and most of it dies overnight. He recommends more tests for both of us.
DH: More tests . . . expensive?
Me: Expensive.

Two and a half years in
DH: I need to be gone for 3 weeks next month. When are you ovulating?
Me: You know I can't predict that now.
DH: Could you make up a calendar that outlines the likeliest 2 or 3 scenarios? I can pick travel dates accordingly.
Me: Hokay. Worth a shot.

Two years and seven months in
Me: Whew, we got you home in time. Lucky those long trips don't pop up very often.
DH: Actually, I'm going to be traveling like this for the foreseeable future. That calendar you made . . . can you do one that covers the rest of the year?
Me: Are you serious?
DH: Yes.

Three and a half years in
RE: My partners won't agree to us cycling you with your eggs unless you're prepared to start in 3 days. You're too old, literally, starting later this month.
DH: You have age criteria . . . explain to me why we've spent thousands of dollars this past year only to be hearing this news TODAY.
RE: I'm sorry. I can have my donor egg coordinator call you Monday. And there are several good adoption agencies in town.
DH: So another $350 for your thoughts, right? We'll leave a check on the way out.

Me (in the car): It's over.
DH: We'll get a second opinion.
Me: It's too late. We wasted too much time with that RE.
DH: We'll keep trying.

Me (later that night): Remember that home-insemination product I told you about? I'm too old for the clinical trial they're doing, but they still need people to give feedback on the instructions.
DH: We can do whatever you want.
Me: You'd get to wear a condom.
DH: Sounds smart. Maybe they're onto something.
Me: It's for collection purposes only.
DH: "Collection purposes." Great.

Four years in
Me: The new RE thinks we have a chance with IVF. Not a great one, but not NO chance.
DH: How much is IVF going to cost at her clinic?
Me: A lot.
DH: We'll do it once. For closure.
Me: Agreed. I'm going to need surgery first.
DH: Let's get moving.

Four and a half years in

Me: That IVF didn't really count.
DH: Why not? It failed. Now we know.
Me: But we didn't retrieve anything and so didn't find out if your sperm and my eggs can make nice. That was the "closure" we were looking for. I think.
DH: What's our savings look like these days?
Me: Smaller than before. But we're okay.
DH: Let me know when I need to be in town.

Four years and seven months in
Me: I got a positive test.
DH: (Silence)
Me: Are you there?
DH: This is good. (More silence)
Me: Hello???
DH: I'm in the car with some clients. We're heading out to dinner.
Me: Call me later?
DH: Love you.

Four years and ten months in
DH: Well, IVF worked last time, to a degree. Should we try again?
Me: You're asking ME?

Five years and one month in
Me: I just took a test: 2 lines.
DH (barely looking up from organizing his underwear drawer): Okay.
Me (after a 10-second delay): Wow. "Okay"? That's all you've got? Way to feign excitement, sweetie.
DH (trapping me into a hug): Look, I thought we already thought you were pregnant. And it's not like we know how things will go yet.
Me: You're right, it's not like that.

Last week
Me (walking to the car after the first ultrasound): If something bad is going to happen, I hope it happens soon.
DH: Sooner is better.
Me: Aren't we the happy parents-to-be.

DH (calling from the road): Still pregnant?
Me: So far. The spotting started up again late today.
DH: Oh no.
Me: It's just brown, but I still hate it.
DH: Can you just lay low tonight?
Me: In a little bit. I'm trying to finish some work first.
DH: I thought you had till the end of the week for that.
Me: I do. I just want to stay ahead of things in case . . .
DH: In case?
Me: In case. I'm working with the same clients as when we miscarried in June, and I'd prefer to not have to share any bad news this time. Last thing I need is a rep as the girl who cries miscarriage every time there's an important deadline.
DH: This has always been an uphill battle. But it ain't over.
Me: I haven't given up. It's hard to visualize success — but I still have hope.
DH: Me too.
Me: Where do you think we get it?
DH: The "stupid" genes I like to think we'll pass on.
Me: Ah, the "stupid" genes. Those are the sweet ones, aren't they? "Hope you got 'em, little baby."


The preceding text constitutes an interpretive paraphrasing of several select real-life conversations DH and I have had since late 2003. Any resemblance to random conversations starring other infertile couples is purely probable.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hanging on

I'm hanging on by a thread, and — right now, bless its little heartbeat — the baby is still hanging out.

I went in a day early for my ultrasound because I woke up to red blood this morning. Strange thing is I usually keep the light off for my 5:45 bathroom trip. But today I flipped the switch and then flipped my lid to see a grape-sized red clot and some red flow. That soon turned to pink mucus and then, later, to the brown spotting and steady cramping I'm still sporting this afternoon.

My RE fit me in at lunchtime to see what's what. DH was able to meet me at the clinic for the ultrasound.

Good news first is that the heartbeat is at a healthy 125 bpm. I'm at 6w4d today, so everyone was pleased with that reading.

The rest of the news is that both the sac and the fetus are measuring behind. Also, the sac is located fairly low in the uterus. Lower than they normally see but not so low as to say that in itself is "bad."

The baby measures at 5w5d, and the sac was 5.7 something. I remember thinking "She doesn't mean 5-weeks-7-days because that would be 6 . . ." and so I assumed she meant 5.7 millimeters, but I honestly don't know more about this detail because I asked one of the many other questions populating my head at the same time.

Frankly, the RE was concerned to see the smaller sac, sac-to-fetus ratio*, low uterine placement, and bleeding all in one package: aka my "less than pristine uterus." (Yeah, she said that, but I knew what she meant and it's true — that there uterus has seen lots of action!) At one point she zeroed in on an enlarged vessel (it had its own pulse), but she found no clot, hematoma, or any other physically viewable cause for the bleeding.

Officially, the RE has deemed this a threatened miscarriage. So we've entered another round of wait-and-see. I'm to go back in anytime the bleeding picks up, but if it doesn't we'll meet next Wednesday for another look-see.

I know it's not supposed to mean anything, but darned if my pregnancy symptoms don't seem to have vanished.

*Do not go looking for information about THIS with measurements like mine.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday funny

And now for some breaking news.

Godspeed, childless couple.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Enjoy yourself!

Hey there, my sweet bloggy friends. I'm still around, just taking a step back from the day-by-day, play-by-play analysis of my early pregnancy, both online and in real life.

I had one ticked-off-yet-cleansing sobbing episode about how crazy IVF (and all its possible outcomes) makes a girl. It started right after I did the greyhound Heimlich on my choking doggie. The incident happened quickly, as these things do, but in the moment I believed I was losing my precious furbaby, and you would not BELIEVE the bargaining chips I flung at God while thrusting at the spot where my pup's barrel chest turns to teeny-tiny tummy. It worked on the fourth or fifth try, thank goodness, and she was and is fine. The only after effects for her were a cough and a curiosity as to why I (a) wouldn't let her eat the bloodied treat she'd spewed across the floor and (b) couldn't stop hugging her for the next 3 days.

That happened the night after my third beta. The crisis helped snap me out of my head and realize that I was going to be on my own with the pregnancy — with no new official word about anything — for another 2 weeks. From then until my ultrasound, it was going to just be me, myself's ever-changing symptoms, and I. (Sorry, bad grammar all around.) And I had to start letting go and letting things be.

I can't say that I won't be super nervous when scan day arrives next Wednesday. But while there's still a bit of a buffer between now and then, I've been sticking to my even keel, keeping myself calm, and focusing on OTHER THINGS.

For ince, of late, I've been doing an excellent job of really concentrating on work for a change. I have my holiday gift-giving plans mapped out. I'm about to stop pretending to work for this day and go make the world's best pumpkin pie (or so I am assured by the recipe). And I plan on reveling in my entire wine-less holiday tomorrow, taking a special moment to express my deep-down gratitude for all that has gone right this year. DH and I started 2008 with a low 15% chance for pregnancy using IVF and rapidly lost ground when an RE retrieved, literally, no eggs from the henhouse. Since then, we've had 2 pregnancies from 2 IVF transfers (!) — and somewhere in the midst of this, that, and the other we managed to grab our beloved marriage by its hair and yank it to safety *just* as it tried to step in front of a speeding bus.

I have a lot to be thankful for. And I'm going to enjoy it.

Hope you enjoy a happy Thanksgiving, too!

Video time. Yes, I've posted two versions of the same song. The first has the best sound, but the costumes in the second demand to be shared.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wanted: Attitude adjustment

Think I can get one on c.raigslist? For cheap?

I had my third and final pregnancy-confirming beta this morning. It went from 170 to 324, which translates to a 91 percent rise every 48 hours, or a true doubling time of 51–52 hours.

At this early stage my clinic wants to see a minimum 2-day rise of 66 percent, and I am well over that. In black-and-white, it is positive news. My RE seems satisfied.

So now we wait for my first ultrasound.

Meantime, I will work on coaxing my positive attitude out of hiding. I know right where to find her — rocking in a corner, holding her breath.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Today's beta news

I'll keep this short:

Saturday's number was 91.8, and today's was 170.

Because it didn't quite double in 48 hours, I'll go back for Round 3 on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First beta in

Today's beta was 91.8 at 15dpo/12dp3dt.

After IVF #2, my first number was 192 at 14dpo.

"And —?" you say.

Well, even though the only thing I should have wanted was a positive, normal-range number today, I secretly had my sights set on something higher than what I got.

I know that each pregnancy is different, that the doubling time we'll see on Monday is what matters, that at face value a lower normal number is not "worse," that I need to suck it up and feel the joy . . .

I UNDERSTAND ALL OF IT, promise. Just wanted to cop to where the infertile, post-miscarriage mind goes, even with good news that has not one shred of negative substance to it. It's a sickness.

In the 2 hours since taking the phone call, I've been actively working on getting my heart to come around. Sometimes all it needs is a little push. Right now, happily, it's sidling up to my head, giving it a squeeze, and saying "Sorry I'm late . . . I'm here now, though."

To summarize, the number is perfectly normal. Yay for that!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Brown is the new beige

I wasn't going to update today — thought I'd give it all a rest — but I just read the comments from yesterday's post and I wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU for all the support. I really appreciate it.

Nothing new except that the beige-y tan spotting turned definitively brown. (In case you're wondering, I'm wearing blue today. It's one of the cheery blues, somewhere between baby and sky. No sad-sacking going on.) The spotting output slows down with increased water consumption, so I'm keeping my tall glass filled. Wait, no, I guess I'm keeping it empty. Strangely, I feel waterlogged and maddeningly thirsty at the same time.

Also, I switched to softer toilet paper today because my delicates are chafed from way too many trips to the loo. Seriously, it was a problem. (Thanks for that idea, foof!)

My beta is still on for Saturday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spotting as an accessory

Yeah, well, I started spotting beige last night, and it's still here today.

I spent most of the night praying, playing my meditation CDs in my head, and reminding myself that spotting before beta happens all the time with perfectly viable pregnancies. Spotting is not uncommon with IVF-ers. It could be old blood or other internal goo from the ER or ET. It could be leftover from the start of implantation. It could come from one of two implanting embryos deciding to disengage. It could be nothing specific. Or it could be my period trying to start. (DH rightly pointed out last night that the period option is, at least, outnumbered.)

I'm at 12dpo/9dp3dt. My tests are still getting darker and I'm seeing "Pregnant" on digitals. All that's reassuring for now.

Once I finished approving this morning's HPTs, I shot myself up with a nice dose of womb-enhancing progesterone, breathed deeply, and got dressed. For my own brand of "I refuse to wig out" calming distraction, I accessorized externally to complement the shade of my unseen companion: beige-based argyle sweater, light khaki socks, camel eyeshadow, and a small spritz of Coco for kicks and whiffs. Oh, and I'm listening to Diana Krall in my office. She's kind of beige.

Doing my best to go with the flow.

Dare ya to call me a weirdo to my face!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wish you were here!

If you were here, I'd offer you some tea and then wow you with my 2-test series of positive HPTs. They are still too faint to scan or photograph well, so you really need to be in the same room to appreciate yesterday's whispery pink test line (which showed up after several minutes) and its remarkable transformation into today's "Show me your urine, and I'll show you my face" bubblegum-hued beauty.

I know. It is inappropriately early to squawk about being pregnant. Gauche, really. I am only 10dpo/7dp3dt. Too many unknowns. And way too many knowns: 43 years old. Low odds for sustained success. First-hand experience losing a chromosomally abnormal fetus made from a perfect-looking embryo. The betas might stink and the baby might die. (Harsh, yes, but I want to be clear that I see clearly through my misty-gray glasses.)

However, I've made a personal vow to embrace the light of this last chance. I'm choosing hopefulness over gloom and choosing it NOW. Surely that will be difficult some days. But I've got it covered today.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Halfway through the wait

One week since ER, one week till beta.

One day since I felt the sharp, stabby uterine pains and body-temperature shift that flipped the tiny switch on my hopefulness meter.

Same day since I got a "surprise" package from Sephora . . . and then flashed on the hazy-crazy memory of shopping the Internets while waiting for a kernel of embryo news last Saturday.

This draggy part sure does drag, but I've felt surprisingly perky today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Embies on board!

That should be on a bumper sticker. Or better yet, a static-cling window decal so you can quickly and discreetly adjust your status.

Here they are, my 8-celled beauties. They were compacting on themselves as the embryologist snapped their portrait. (So cute how they wanted to keep dividing.)

All 3 are strapped in for the 2ww ride, and I'm officially PUPO.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quickie update: Transfer tomorrow

We're set for transfer tomorrow at 10 am Pacific.

As of this afternoon, all 3 embies are still growing. I have no info beyond that WHATSOEVER, and I did my level best to get it!

From the nurse's wording ("We've determined which embryos are best for transfer"), it certainly sounded to me like 2 out of the 3 are looking better and may be the only ones available to put back. But when I asked for a number, she wouldn't say, and when I quoted her words back to her to support my reasoning that we'll have fewer than 3, she wouldn't repeat what she'd said or confirm my suspicions. She simply said all 3 were still growing. No doubt she just LOVES trying to communicate with us end-of-cycle/end-of-rope IVF chicks.

I mentioned that I'd gotten much more information during our last cycle (allowing for the possibility that it was different because my RE was the one calling me then), and she said, "Yeah, we've really backed away from that approach. We want you to hear it straight from the embryologist."

So we won't know anything until we check out the photos and sign the final report 15 minutes before the procedure.

I am a bit of a wreck today. Things aren't TOO bad. No crying or shouting or screaming. Just moments of feeling super low and others of feeling startlingly scattered. DH has done his best to logicalize me out of the down moments, and that does work on me.

I'll spend the rest of the day watching movies, cooking/eating a big pot of chili, harassing the dog for snuggles, and spending some time with my meditation CDs. Maybe I'll hit up DH for a back massage, too.

This is kinda fun: When I logged on just now, I noticed yesterday's post that I titled "3, 3, 3" (for 3 mature eggs, 3 embies, 3-day transfer) was posted at 3:33. I did not know that!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

3, 3, 3

As predicted, 3 of my little eggies were mature. The lab ICSI'd them, and — hallelujah! — all 3 fertilized.

Our good fert success in both possible cycles makes me even more certain that IVF was right for us. If nothing else we know that DH's sperm and my eggs are amenable to hooking up and trying to make a go of it. They just need the help of an expensive matchmaker. I always knew it!

In our April/May cycle 6 fertilized and so the RE felt confident enough at this point in the game to schedule our transfer. No such luck today. But the clinic was nice enough to narrow tomorrow's possible phone-call window to 2.5 hours for me.

Please pray with me, people: Divide and stay healthy, divide and stay healthy, divide and stay healthy!

If we get a healthy bub from all this hubbub, I am totally buying this print.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Twisted trick-or-treating

ER went fine this morning. I awoke to see the surgeon's blurry, still-masked head poking through the ugly recovery-area curtains. He said, "Eyes are open! We got 6 eggs for sure! We might have 8 — I'll be right back." And he dashed away.


Here's a cool public domain National Park Service photo (by Peter Jones) of Lechuguilla Cave (named for an agave plant . . . mmm, tequila!), which — according to one shaky-looking online source — might also be known as "Halloween Cave."

It's a nice visual representation of the follicle hunt, don't you think? (Please note that I'm on drugs.)

I don't think I blogged before that my ER doc was the one from both our empty-follicle cycle and the D&C. I got a tad emotional Thursday at hearing he'd be on call today. Despite knowing he's one of the best anywhere, I'd envisioned working with someone else for this last gasp. But, I quickly accepted reality and decided it would be a good way to come full circle on my IVF loop.

In lieu of a costume I wore a camouflage-print tank under my sweater (had to take it off, but I soaked up its combat-ready vibes in the car), wrote a sparkly-silver "BOO!" on my IV-arm, and drew a mini goblin on my shin. Might as well lighten things up. The nurse gasped when she rolled up my gown sleeve ("Did you get a tattoo!?"). Whether the OR staff discussed my goblin, I don't know. I was out before getting fully settled on the operating table. Last thing I remember, the gentle-giant surgical assistant (he could probably bench press everyone in the room) was moving me and saying, "Okay, Lisa, lift your bottom and I'll —."

I was down for the count. Didn't even get to hear what music they turned on or see the doctor enter the room.

Afterward I ran the "6 maybe 8" through my foggy head. I tried to reason whether the "maybe 8" meant good things for any of the ones over 5 I hadn't planned to hear about at all. And I hoped it might translate to maybe getting 4 mature instead of 3. Or just 3 really great ones — or 1 really excellent one! No way to further predict a single thing until tomorrow's fertilization report, though.

The doctor came back and explained that he'd retrieved 8 big-enough follicles, and that 6 gave up the ghost rather easily. The embryologist got nothing out of the other 2 . . . but she did flush the bejeebers out of them.

I mentioned my earlier worst- and best-case predictions. The doc grinned and said, "We usually get good Halloween news here."

DH and I are relieved to have made it this far, and we'll sit on pins and needles till the phone rings tomorrow.


I chuckled at this (minimally monkeyed with by me) wiki description of Lechuguilla Cave, aka MY Halloween Cave. Every time you see "the cave," and so on, substitute "Lisa's uterus" or another suitably parallel phrase. It's fun. ------

Access to the cave is limited to approved scientific researchers and survey and exploration teams . . . [the cave] was known until 1986 as a small, fairly insignificant historic site in the park's back country. (Hey, how do THEY know about 1986?) The cave contains [an] entrance pit known as Misery Hole, which [for a time] led to 400 feet of dry dead-end passages.

The cave was visited infrequently after mining activities ceased. Although there was no obvious route, different people concluded that cave passages did in fact lay below the rubble.

[Explorers] have mapped passages and have pushed the depth of the cave . . . Cavers, drawn by the caves' pristine condition and rare beauty, come from around the world to explore and map its passages and geology.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


That thing stings every time.

My Day 12 follicles met triggering criteria this morning — so trigger I did, at 8:00 pm on the dot.

For those who want numbers — I'm talking to YOU, current and future IVF-ers scouring the Web to obsess about how your follicles compare to others' — here's my size breakdown:

The Presumptive Leaders

3 follicles at 18–21 mm

The Still-in-the-Running Hopeful
1 follicle at 16.5 mm

The Scrappy, Ready-to-Come-from-Behind Underdog
1 follicle at 15.5 mm

The Also-Rans
3 follicles at 9.5–12.5 mm

The "Less Thans" (actual clinic-speak)
3 follicles at less than 7 mm

My E2 today was at 1,600, only slightly higher than my trigger-day E2 during IVF #2. But it's a better number (I think) because I have many fewer mature-looking follicles, which are the ones that give off the measurable E2 reading. So, relative to the last cycle, the reading is higher in a potentially desirable way. I think.

In any case, this is the thought process that's allowing me to feel not so glum about having less than half the seemingly mature follies I did last time. It's also keeping me from letting my mind revisit the time where we thought we had 4 follicles at retrieval but got nothing. These 4 follicles are different from those 4 follicles.

Please, please, please, please don't let these 4 follicles be empty. Please.

My personal best-case prediction is that we can possibly get 5 eggs with 3 acting mature.

ER is Friday morning at 7:30.

Busy with a cycle? Circle November 4 on your calendar now!

Just a pitch for everyone to get out there and pull those levers, press those buttons, and fill in those tiny circles! I love this one in particular because it doesn't push any candidates (a refreshing change as the season winds down) — it just says to VOTE!

Had to add this one, too, because it mentions multiples (that makes it kinda on topic for select IVF-ers, right?) . . . plus, I still think Opie is adorable.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


When I was 14, I used to substitute "Tusk!" for one of the more popular 4-letter expletives. I only did this around one friend. We thought it was funny. Private joke.

I hadn't thought about that in YEARS until I shouted it out in frustration today. This afternoon's report from my coordinator gave me a different take than I'd had just hours before about where I sit on the stimmed-up scale. I seem to be losing ground, or at least several potentially viable follicles. Tomorrow's measurements will give a better picture. So I am trying to stay calm, collected, controlled.

After my blast-from-the past outburst, I said "Tusk!" the rest of the day.

"Tusk!" I said at hearing today's drug re-order would cost more than yesterday's.

"Tusk!" I said at grasping that I seem to have just 4 good follies to root for now.

"Tusk, tusk, tusk!" I said at developing a purple bruise, itchy red rash, AND nausea after tonight's 3 injections.

Cussin' around has made me slightly smiley instead of fully frowny.

Meanwhile, look how young the Fleetwood Mac-ers look in this video from 1979!

The even, pulsing beat of the music suits me right now: Hormones coursing; me marching, marching onward.

Waiting (for) to go

That's "go" with a silent "t."

Don't mind me, folks, just entertaining myself.

It's Day 11 of stims, and I'm in the clinic's atrium pilfering wi-fi while waiting for acupuncture, waiting for my follicles to grow big enough to trigger, waiting for another chance to get knocked up, and — ultimately — waiting to see what's next for me in this life.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 8: Feeling the swings

Went in this morning for pokes and peeks. My 10 follies are still there: 6 are of a fairly uniform size at 14–14.5 mm, and the 4 laggers are at 10–10.5 mm. I'll stop stims when at least 2 reach 18 mm. Best guess is that could be Monday but might be Tuesday. Retrieval will happen during the second half of the week.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the progress, but I got veeerrrryyy sad about the 4 smaller follicles afterward. They can still make it to maturity by ER. But there's a bigger size gap between the two sets than there was last time.

DH's first question was whether those 4 might just drop out of the picture . . . a reasonable q, and exactly the possibility that was making me blue. The NP who did the ultrasound today, though, assured me — in the "maybe not, mind you" way the clinic HAS to put things — that most/all of those will keep going, and that "Things will happen as they're supposed to."

I know that general sentiment is usually meant as a comfort, as something positive about the bigger picture (and in this case, I of course know the NP was really just being upbeat, saying that things look fine). But my personal belief is that things will happen as they will. I don't see that as a negative POV, just what is, and it's different from what's supposed to be.

So, sometimes — like after my miscarriage, or when I'm looking at facts that point to the possibility of something not going well, or when I'm pushing my own hormones on an old-school swing — hearing that things only happen because they're supposed to makes me feel a little bad.

I'm taking my antagonist shot each morning now (it counteracts all the stimulation meds so I don't accidentally surge and release those eggies before ER). Think that helps create my pitiful Debbie Downer moments? I do.

Lucky for me I'm just a few hours away from my nighttime batch of happy shots — 7:30 upswing, here I come. Whee!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bye-bye black jeans

While zipping up my stiff-denim black jeans this morning, I thought I could probably wear them one more time after today before the bloating made them uncomfortable.

I just had to change my pants. I'd unbuttoned them almost as soon as I settled in at my desk, and I'd had them unzipped — all the way — for at least 2 hours. Good thing I work from home.

Updates from yesterday's Day 5 happenings:

10 of the 11 resting follicles are still showing up; 4 are measuring 9–10 mm, and the rest are right behind at 6–8mm.

My E2 was 166, which is right where it should be at this stage.

I am generally stimming at a slower pace than I have in the past, so I may stim longer. I started stims earlier (CD 2 — one could even argue it was CD 1.5), so I like to imagine that I caught some of the follies before they had a chance to start the normal dying-off process they'd go through in an unmedicated cycle . . . and so maybe we'll get a few that are truly helped along by the hormones I'm aiming at them . . . instead of just a bunch of artificially mature-looking eggs that took the hormone bait and grew, but are missing the components needed to create an embryo that properly divides ALL THE WAY through the stages of cell division and turns into the poor bean that will have to take care of its older-than-dirt parents while still young.

I had acupuncture yesterday, too. During this phase of the cycle, I get electro-stimmed twice a week. On Monday, I had trouble feeling the fluttering sensation from the needles, and acupuncturist J had to keep turning up the "volume." I never really did feel anything. But yesterday the buzzing feeling was strong. Instead of acclimating to it, I sensed it all the way through the treatment and ended up a little nauseated at the end. Maybe those 6 smaller follicles will now wake up, shape up, and join the party by the Day 8 scan.

Have I mentioned that I've been talking to my follicles since the suppression check? I'm thinking of every last one of 'em as a potential keeper.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October's path

Today in relevant history:

  • 1987 — Knew my October AF was everything but normal. Couldn't begin to fathom that the things that do/don't grow inside my uterus would so profoundly affect not just that year, but the next 20+.
  • 1995 — Married my sweetheart.
  • 2000 — Knew I needed a second myomectomy.
  • 2003 — Started TTC for our 8th anniversary.
  • 2007 — "Skipped" our 12th anniversary because I was in the hospital for surgery that would allow us to try IVF.
  • 2008 (that's today) — Hugged DH extra hard at 5:58 am when he whispered "Happy anniversary," then teared up when he added a soft "thank you."
Cycle status:
  • Day 4 of stims.
  • Feeling strong and not too stressed.
  • Bloating is trying to start.
  • Headache pops up about an hour before my shots each evening. (Can you say, "Hormone dip"?)
  • Day 5 monitoring tomorrow.
Things I'm doing to help myself stay calm and focused:
  • Staying ahead of my work.
  • Listening to meditation CDs and music.
  • Reading books.
  • Watching movies.
  • Flipping through magazines.
  • Using the "good" lotions and potions.
  • Going to twice-weekly acupuncture sessions.
  • Soaking my feet nightly in warm water. (Gotta get that blood and good Qi moving!)
  • Taking fistfuls of vitamins and supplements.
  • Consuming IVF-/fertility-friendly foods.
  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Walking the dog (see photo for today's path).
  • Cooking and baking.
  • Consciously choosing positivity.
  • Planning for an "IVF #3 failed" future.
  • Trusting that an "IVF #3 worked" future is possible.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ride my see-saw

Video post!

I'm watching Miss Pettigrew's Something or Other. The film looks pretty, and most of the acting seems solid . . . but it's not holding my interest. Oh wait, it just ended kind of sweet-like — as expected, but a whole lot faster. Hmm. Thumbs sideways.

Back on topic:

One minute tonight I was in good spirits, waiting for 7 pm to really-truly start this cycle by shooting up with my first round of stims. The next minute I was prepping my shots and surprising myself by a bitter burst of blubbering that there I was, right back where I was in January (IVF #1) . . . and April (IVF #2).

BUT. I took the shots and felt better. Still feeling good now, 3 hours later.

Enjoy the video. My Follistim-Menopur combo doesn't produce the psychedelic effects suggested by the little intro. But it does do a number on me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This was a bad day to look at my retirement funds

Ugh. I held off peeking at the volatile-economy-driven losses in my retirement funds until last Sunday — the day before all payments for IVF #3 were due.

The news was as expected. Sobering. Then came today's downturn. I read that this marked the 20th business day out of the last 23 that the Dow has logged a triple-digit move. Today it was down 733 points.

I couldn't stop myself from looking at my funds again. It's sick-making on a number of levels.

At the top of the list here and now, of course, is that IVF is so very, very expensive.

DH and I have talked, many times, about the serious financial hit we've volunteered to take. We've been revisiting the topic this week (and last), while there's still time to back out and bury the money in the backyard. But we keep coming to the same conclusion: The hit still seems worth it, even if all we get is a chance.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Had my suppression check this morning, and things look good all up in there. My ovaries are quiet. No cysts. And I have 11 resting follicles.

That's the same number I started with last time, so I've decided to view this cycle as a JEN-yoo-INE do-over in which I will do everything I can to help these follies along and, I hope, stay open to whatever forces might come together to improve the outcome with a healthy, sticky bean.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The drugs are making me weepy

Yet I haven't taken a thing. All meds are in the house. But I'm still 2 days away from my first antagonist shot and 10, maybe 12, from starting stims.

In the past few days I've teared up about all kinds of good stuff:

mistakenly cutting someone off during rush hour; receiving my cycle meds; chipping a mug I actually hate; seeing the pup take a 2-second detour on the way to her food bowl (hey, she needed to make her screaming monkey scream); getting a bill for extended storage of the sperm sample DH banked in our last cycle; buying a new sweater, then unpacking my winter wardrobe to find a near-identical match from an end-of-season sale last year; noticing (with relief) that DH looks relatively untroubled for the first time in many months; sending my brother a DVD of a goofy movie we used to watch as kids; thinking about WWII; learning that DH will be traveling during IVF . . . again; getting a compliment from a complete stranger at Target; noting the tragic fall of the Jackson family (triggered by an old Jermaine song on the radio);


My suppression check is Monday, and I am more than a little nervous about what we'll see. Hoping for no cysts. And a goodly number of resting follicles. With no cysts. And a nice batch of follicles.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cold dawns and pretty bridges

I'm home from my trip and doing my best to get ahead on work and household issues before everything goes to heck in a biohazardous waste container starting . . . oh well, better blog it like it is . . . starting last year right about this time.

The trip had its moments, both lovely and atrocious. And although I would balk at calling it a "vacation," it was clearly good for DH and me to just exist elsewhere for a bit. Bonding and a reversion to a more effortless connection ensued.

One morning last week I woke up extra early. We'd just spent our first night in my parents' home, and I wanted to see the sunrise on the lake. I crept out to the family room and was blown away by the beauty of the mist on the water. I (quietly) gathered up my eyeglasses, slippers, and camera, and I curled up on a patio chair — outside in 40-degree weather, wearing thin pajamas — to capture the scene.

I was ready to go inside about 30 minutes before snapping this dock photo, but I'd locked myself out. I didn't much mind. I was happy to stay outside for a while and enjoy some quiet moments alone with the lake. It never fails to restore me.

At first glance of this image, my immediate thought was "bridge to nowhere." (Hmm, wonder why that term was in my head.) The next startled thought I had was "Oh, is that what I think about IVF for us? Maybe. Kinda. Yes. But look at the pretty bridge."

Then I recalled writing about the lake and the feeling of "twilight" a few months back. My reaction to this image of dawn struck me as apropos to everything: The bridge shows a bit of age . . . but it still looks beautiful, even hopeful, bathed in first light.

All at once it appears to be sturdy and delicate. Weary and open. Wise and clueless. Resolute and peaceful.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time is gonna fly

It's here, the cycle that officially starts the madness of IVF #3!

I'll do a suppression check at 6 or 7 DPO (around 3 weeks from now), and if all looks good I'll shoot up with Cetrotide that night. Stims will begin about week after that. My clinic calls this a Natural Luteal Phase Antagonist Protocol — it's the same one we used for IVF #2.

I had a hysteroscopy 2 weeks ago, just to make sure everything looked normal after the D&C and that no new fibroids had sprouted. I still have one by my cervix that they didn't feel comfortable taking during my October 2007 myomectomy, but it hasn't grown and isn't making anyone (with an M.D.) nervous. Everything looks peachy. Make that pink-y — I saw my insides on a color monitor!

DH and I are flying out early Saturday to visit 5 different family units, with an (equal!) emphasis on both sets of parents. I want to go a little bit, really I do, but mostly I don't want to go in the least.

We haven't seen any family since well before we canceled last year's visit in the wake of finding out I needed surgery and needed it fast before proceeding to IVF #1 (followed by IVF #2, followed by miscarriage, followed by IVF #3 . . .).

I kind of wanted to see everyone under different circumstances: either with our baby in tow, or after we're totally done pursuing ART and I've had a chance to return to a more typical mindset and, I won't lie, body weight. Some of the clothes I'm packing are 2 sizes bigger than the ones I took on our last trip in 2007. It kinda stinks to anticipate the double-takes I know I'll get, but I know it will be fine and I'll enjoy seeing people I love.

All I'm really thinking about right now, though, is flying back home October 4 and getting this third dog-and-pony show on the road.

7 random things

Tara tagged me for a meme today, and I decided to pounce the minute after seeing it . . . otherwise, as experience tells me, I will not get back to it.

It's called the "7 Random Things About Me" meme. You're supposed to link to the person that tagged you, post the rules, share your 7 random/weird things, and tag 7 new people in their comments sections.

Here's my list:
  1. I've largely ignored my work-related blog since starting this one. I look forward to spending more time with the part of myself that really cares about my work — and lots of other things too — in the not-too-distant future, come what may.
  2. Number of hot sauce bottles on a small Lazy Susan in my tea-and-hot-sauce cupboard: 11.
  3. I am uncomfortable using silverware that has been handwashed and air dried in the drying rack. Same goes for glassware. When I see them in the rack (I say "see" because I don't put them there), I will either transfer them to the dishwasher or rewash/dry them myself. DH has no idea.
  4. When I was little, I became absolutely convinced that my sister was a vampire. For a while I slept with a small cross under my pillow, just in case.
  5. I got a haircut last night, and despite showering and using my own shampoo and styling goop this morning, I can still smell the 5 types of goop my stylist used in my hair. (Yes, 5 — and she didn't even use hairspray.)
  6. I'm about to make brunch reservations for Sunday at a restaurant about 1,800 miles away.
  7. I don't like to tag other people for memes — so I'm skipping it! If you'd like to play, feel free to post your 7 things and tag 7 other people. You can also badmouth me for being a spoil-sport player!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"We weren't even trying at all!"

I swear I hear/read a new story every other week about women in their 40s (like me!), barren for years (like me!), who get pregnant with a perfect sticky bean that turns into a perfect healthy baby just MINUTES before starting their IVF cycles (like . . . uh . . . well, crap).

Obviously I'm doing a little venting here. But not about the successes themselves. Those make me happy, honest. I'm not even whining about the circumstances I've described. I know that surprise pregnancies absolutely happen all the time to people gearing up for IVF or DE-IVF. Of course they do. Hearing about those make my day.

My little semantics vent is this: Why is the kicker to this particular story almost ALWAYS that these people "weren't even trying — AT ALL"? That detail is sticking in my craw tonight.

I'll allow that couples can, and certainly do, occasionally enjoy each other's company without an explicit conception agenda. And that those struggling with IF may have every reason to assume nothing will happen and so will be surprised by ANY kind of BFP.

You cannot persuade me, though, that couples in their 40s who are seriously TTC and pursuing ART don't know when they've had unprotected sex near a fertile window and don't think about on some level that maybe, God willing, they will beat the odds and wind up pregnant by just doing what comes naturally.

So I contend that — for this type of couple — there is NO SUCH THING as a truly genuine incident of not trying* that leads to pregnancy.

That's my position, and I'm sticking to it.**


*I'm defining not trying as "no sex."
**That is, I'm sticking to it at least until I fall asleep in the next 2 minutes.
***Oh, and I take it all back and apologize to anyone I've rendered miffed. I suppose anything is freakin' possible! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jonesing for FSH

This is the kind of thing you can only admit on your infertility (and all things IVF) blog:

I'm really looking forward to my first shot of Follistim.

And I'm starting to think THAT is how they getcha.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New weeks rule!

It's been quite the week since I last checked in. Just when I was feeling smug for regaining some measure of control over how my days played out, things went nuts on me!

Nothing truly serious happened. Just a bunch of things that can throw a gal for some loops:

We had a sick dog that required lots of extra monitoring (and cleaning) and care (and cleaning). She's doing better right now. Hoping the good health sticks.

We fought the scourge of fleas (which, long story super-short, we now think we never had). Talk about situations that leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained . . . and helpless . . . and gross.

I got whiplash from the offer/implosion of a juicy last-minute "We must have YOU . . . NOW" writing gig. I frantically called in favors so I could fit it into my schedule, and then — just like that, as I was ready to dig in — I heard from the client, "Oh, were you counting on that? Sorry. We've killed that deal." Ah, well. Looks like I'll have just part-time work during the upcoming IVF. Maybe that's for the best.

A clinic employee who had (with NO prompting from me) flat-out offered to front us some sample meds for this IVF totally backtracked last week. When I called to plan my pharmacy order, it became clear that the "I want to help you guys out" conversation never officially happened. Grrrr. Luckily when we made our decision we factored in the possibility of that "help" saving us $0. But still. Grrrr.

My severe allergies paid a visit and then I had an allergic reaction to the allergy meds. Who knew that solid red rashes ("Look, it's Mother Teresa's face on my thigh!") and severe abdominal pain were potential side effects from a popular 24-hour OTC antihistamine. The abdominal thing is really rare, but I'm special. Yay! I was thisclose to an ER visit, but the on-call nurse's advice got me through the night.

And, as the perfect topper, all the round-the-clock nose blowing I did gave me a red-hot ear infection. I can't tell you how peeved I get when I need a doctor's visit for, uh, health reasons. I know it's silly, but it makes me feel weak. Like a big fat failure. (I know. It's a wee problem.) The fact that my PCP, who does NOT like to prescribe medications (a reason I like him), said that I had to take antibiotics didn't help my mindset. In the last calendar year alone — all due to having surgeries and so far completing two IVF cycles — I've taken more rounds of antibiotics than I have in at least 25 years, maybe even my life. And needing the pills now for an actual illness I felt responsible for inflicting (I already acknowledged it's a problem, okay?) pi$$ed me off something fierce!! I am against what I believe to be the long-time overuse of antibiotics in our culture. Of course I want people to get them when necessary. And I am a people. But all I could think about that first night (and I was up for all of it, shivering with fever and coughing/nose-blowing my brains out) was well here's another lovely side effect of IF: my year-long spate of antibiotics-swallowing (DH's too) may mean that I will now need more of them going forward . . . and so now I can add personally contributing to the rise of drug-resistant bugs that will effectively end the world to the list of things I thought I'd never do in the seemingly simple interest of trying (and trying . . . and trying) to have a baby. I've calmed down about that one since my fever broke Friday night.

I'm so glad it's a new week . . .

It's sunny and hot and blue. My marigolds are in full purple bloom. The house is definitely insect free. All clothing, carpets, and upholstered items are clean, and all surfaces are up to Mom's-visiting standards. I actually tasted my breakfast egg and nectarine. The dog is lolling in a sunbeam with a little grin on her face. I have no tissue in my hand (or pocket, or on the desk). I got an overdue paycheck in the mail. Tonight DH is running my errands and bringing dinner home.

Today is a fantastic day to be alive!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Three horrible little words

"We have fleas."


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I want a microfluidic chip in my culture medium too!

Just read this article about new IVF technology on the horizon.

If findings hold up, it sounds like IVF-ers of the future will get more accurate information about embryo quality, which in turn will improve success rates and lower costs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's starting already

My IVF cycle won't officially start for another 8 weeks, give or take, and I'm sitting here at my desk right now with a big knot in my stomach.

I start a new acupuncture treatment plan in about an hour, so I guess I'm feeling like all the madness starts NOW. Or in the next in 1 HOUR AND 11 MINUTES, anyway. Plus, the appointment is at the clinic, so I've got the walking-through-the-door thing to make myself do.

DH is funny. He emailed a little bit ago to ask if I was "all buttery" for the acupuncture (when the practitioner checks one of the inserted needles, she wants it to feel like it's moving in butter). I replied that I felt anxious. About a minute later he called to invite me out for dinner. But I had no idea what he was talking about:

DH: Do you want to go home right after or stay out?

Me: Stay out where?

DH: I could stay at work and get a few more things done.

Me: I have no place to go. But you can work late if you want.

DH: I just thought you might like to eat on the way home.

Me: By myself? Why? Do you need to work really late?

DH: No! I thought I could meet you somewhere since we'll both be on the same side of the bridge. We could eat an early dinner out and wait out rush-hour traffic. Both of us. At the same place.

Me: Oh, wow, I didn't catch your drift there at all. Sure!

Hope we both understand where we're meeting.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baby pools and baby fools

It's cool and rainy today; in my neck of the woods, the hot, hot weather is probably gone for the season. The pic shows our doggie enjoying a refreshing dip in her baby pool as summer temps soared.

The pup is just 7 — still a baby to us! — but she is aging. For her breed and size she's on the cusp of senior status.

I can relate to that. My family tends to thrive into their 90s, and by that measure I am still a young woman. I feel young. But reproductively speaking, I am old. Who knows, maybe I never did fit into the "young" category, reproductively speaking.

DH and I have taken a little time to determine our next steps on the TTC front. Not too much time, though. We've stayed aware that my fertility is declining at the speed of dog years. (Don't get me wrong. DH's fertility ain't exactly on the upswing either, but mine is the more crucial factor at present.) As Dr. K told me, I'm on a hill going down; I'm not yet on a cliff about to get shoved off. So we're still in the game . . . for the NOW that keeps slipping away all too quickly.

One of our recent talks was sparked by a mutual noting of all the subtle age-related changes to the dog's features, gait, and demeanor. It's soooo painfully sweet to watch those changes evolve in contrast to her eternally youthful attitude. She's older, but she will never "grow up" all the way. She still trusts us to address all her basic needs, acts greedy for treats, takes joy from snatching bees from the air and finding squeakers in her toys, and — remarkably — keeps walking or running (best fun EVER!) through any pain from stray thorns, bloody scrapes, or arthritic joints. This creature lives in the moment. She seizes her chances. She enjoys current opportunity — and expects it in the future — regardless of past disappointments (read: never enough treats).

In that spirit, we've decided to do one more round of IVF with my eggs. It's what we want, and I'm done feeling guilty about it.

Hey, it has worked before. As DH says, "We were on our way." And Dr. K assures us it's NOT unreasonable to assume there's a golden egg for the hatching. We probably even had a good embryo last time, but chance and the many mysteries of life caused an abnormal one to implant.

We can't and won't try indefinitely. We do, however, feel strong enough for one more whirl.

I read this quote from Erica Jong the other day:

"No one ever found wisdom without also being a fool. Writers, alas, have to be fools in public, while the rest of the human race can cover its tracks."

I thought about just sharing the first sentence for this post. (I am a writer and relate to the second from that POV, but this blog's not about that.) But then I realized, no, the whole dang thing applies beautifully . . . all you have to do is switch out "writers" in favor of "couples seeking to conceive using ART." And/or, of course "bloggers."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The big to-do

I clearly remember the days WebMD (sort of) reported on today, when motherhood was not on my to-do list.

If you look at my sidebar's reproductively focused history, you might glean that the pursuit of motherhood failed to make my list until I was 38.

As a child I always assumed I'd be a mom. Frankly, I didn't think anyone could get out of it. Once I hit teenagerhood and heartily embraced my future as an Enjoli woman, I told myself "I will do this, but on MY modern-woman terms. I will wear Charlie instead!"

Let's pause for a word from our sponsor . . .

Later as a young adult, despite adoring children, motherhood got bumped to my eh-I'm-just-not-sure-I'll-do list. It stayed there for YEARS. My feeling was why think about it when I don't have that fire? Never mind that I didn't marry till age 30 (I was in nooooo rush on that front either). Surely I'd know when/if the time was right and just act on it then. No biggie.

I'll admit that throughout that ambivalent period some part of me still assumed I'd reproduce. But it was the same part that still thought conception basically just happened to everyone.

In those days I never heard one peep about anyone trying to conceive. (Maybe that was considered crass? Or, quite probably, maybe I didn't pay all that much attention to the details!) Every pregnancy was announced as having come as a BIG surprise to everyone involved. You know, birth control failed, glances were exchanged, towels were shared, coats were hung up next to each other. Of course, everyone I ever knew would, eventually, make their BIG announcement(s). That was fine for them. I wasn't there yet. And oh boy did I balk at anyone telling me I needed to get on the baby-making stick. (Three's Company–style double entendre intended.)

At just shy of 35 (and right before a second round of major abdominal surgery), starting a family made the pretty big jump to my to-probably-do list. Concerns for my future fertility were effectively scared into me, and I followed every last recommendation about ensuring proper uterine healing. I took it very seriously. Yet I still felt a surprisingly deep (er, stupid?) sense of "time on my side." And I deferred all serious family-planning talk — in favor of chasing a "better" career and a big stretch of settled alone time with DH — to age 38, at which point getting pregnant shot straight to the top of my to-do-and-do-NOW list.

The desire hits different people at different times and in different ways. When it finally hit me in the face, its impact got right to knocking me down at every turn. Luckily, I was blessed with stamina, so I keep getting up.

At 43, I know putting "create a healthy take-home baby with DH" on my to-do list (see how I've learned the art of specificity!) doesn't mean it's going to happen.

But man, oh man, that item IS on there. Crazy I might be. But ready to crawl away from the fight I am not.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How can I get this baby to my house?

You've probably seen this sweet whale baby on the news. It's separated from its mama and trying to suckle a yacht.

My heart positively aches to see the video (it hurts just to think about the poor scared sweetie).

I want to send for it. We have a couple extra rooms. I'm thinking we could knock down a wall or two and build a perfectly lovely tank.

Think DH would notice?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

LIVE from the corner

Like my little corner? I took the photo to show faraway loved ones a close-up of how the new paint and carpeting on our main floor look with our furniture.

Looking at the pic right now makes me want to crawl into that space and live there. Just for a little while.

As a child, whenever I disappeared from view at home, you could bet I was actively escaping family frenzy by quietly hanging out in a tight spot that nobody else really thought about: the low crook of the massive oak out back; a sliver of plush green carpeting between the picture window and couch (we called it a "davenport" then); the small slab of countertop between the refrigerator and kitchen wall; the cave underneath the basement pool table; or — my favorite — the lighted corner of my tiny-but-packed bedroom closet (door tightly closed, please).

I craved the confinement. It helped me focus my thoughts.

I notice my house full of grown-ups fails to feature any cozy little retreats — with the notable (and terribly noticeable) exception of my piled-high-with-stuff office. That's where I'm sitting right now, taking one of my frequent stabs at thinking things through on the reproductive front. I'm refreshing my memory on treatment plans, giving my favorite search engine a workout, scanning a book with essays about choosing to live child-free, and looking at work calendars, finances, travel schedules, old journal entries . . .

I've had an absolute bear of a time keeping my office clutter-free ever since we began pursuing ART treatments. For a long time, I told myself the mess kept on top of ME (instead of the other way around) because I was so distracted, often harried, as we traversed the bumpy, medically assisted path to potential parenthood. But while moving piles around and definitely NOT making things appear any tidier this afternoon, I realized that I've created just the kind of hemmed-in retreat I used to need as a kid. I feel safe in my office. Wedged into the corner with my stuff. Comfortable, calm, protected, and in touch with my thoughts.

Eureka! An insight! I'd say that's progress, even if it's about the method to my madness.

I'm hoping to make the leap from insights to decisions very, very soon. Although I've obviously been taking strength from my little corner full of stacks 'n' stuff, I'm itching to raze the place.